University of Missouri

Linebacker Kentrell Brothers coming into his own for Missouri

Missouri Tigers linebacker Kentrell Brothers lined up in the third quarter of a 49-24 win over the Toledo Rockets in a September game.
Missouri Tigers linebacker Kentrell Brothers lined up in the third quarter of a 49-24 win over the Toledo Rockets in a September game. AP

After Saturday’s shutout loss to Georgia, Missouri junior linebacker Kentrell Brothers didn’t even bother to shower.

He sat briefly at his locker, trying to digest a hard-to-stomach 34-0 defeat against the Bulldogs, before pulling on his street clothes and heading home.

“It was definitely an embarrassing game,” Brothers said. “I went straight home and talked to my mom, (Kia Brothers-Jones), for a little bit. But I went straight home and didn’t come back out for the rest of the day.”

It’s a shame for Brothers, who’s put together perhaps his best stretch of football in a Tigers uniform.

Against South Carolina on Sept. 27, Brothers led a stout defensive effort with 10 tackles, including eight solo stops, two tackles for a loss and two pass breakups.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel called it the best game of Brothers’ career.

“He wasn’t thinking; he was just playing,” sophomore linebacker Michael Scherer said of Brothers’ performance against the Gamecocks. “I’ve seen him do it a million times, so stuff like that doesn’t surprise me. I know what he can do. He’s a freak player and I think he just went out there and played. He just went for it and didn’t hold back anything.”

Brothers followed that up with a career-high 12 tackles, including four solo tackles, and a quarterback hurry against Georgia — a performance that proved impossible to celebrate.

“It was a good feeling. But with the loss, there’s really not much you can feel good about,” Brothers said. “I’m glad that I played somewhat good, but with us losing the game it doesn’t really matter.”

Brothers, who took a redshirt in 2011 after suffering a broken ankle in training camp, agreed with Scherer’s assessment, saying he spent too much time worrying about his assignment rather than reacting to the play in front of him during the season’s first four games.

“I’ve been playing pretty good the last couple weeks,” Brothers said. “It’s taken me a couple games to get the feel of things, but I’m glad it’s coming now rather than later in the season. Hopefully, I can keep it up.”

Brothers, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound native of Guthrie, Okla., played in 11 games his freshman season in 2012 before emerging as a budding star with 70 tackles, including 6 1/2 for a loss, and three interceptions last season.

He was the only linebacker to start all 14 games for the Tigers and played through a late-season shoulder injury that required labrum surgery last spring.

As the most experienced returning linebacker, Missouri expected a lot from Brothers this season, but his play the last two weeks has reset the bar for the what the coaching staff expects from him on a weekly basis.

“I don’t think we give him the trophy yet, but I think he’s doing a lot of good things,” Pinkel said. “Kentrell’s a very talented athlete.”

Not bad for an Oklahoma prep standout that neither the Sooners nor Oklahoma State wanted coming out of high school.

“That’s what I always think about, the two schools that I love the most showed no interest in me,” Brothers said. “That’s always fueled me and helped me work harder, because I always want them to regret it. … (But) I’m happy with the decision made here. I love it here and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @todpalmer.

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